A company’s workforce is its largest, most expensive, and most strategic asset. As the Middle East and North Africa has emerged from the recession over the last 18 months, companies are increasingly competing for top talent.
Across the region, human resources (HR) is changing from an administrative personnel department to a proactive strategic role in a company, positively impacting business. As a result, HR professionals must have an intimate understanding of the company, the competitive landscape, and financials related to employment.
In the job market, the balance of power has shifted from employers to employees. In response, HR departments must take the lead in enhancing the company culture, and searching for and retaining top talent.
Employees Seeking Holistic Workplace
Seeking a balance between their work and personal lives, employees are now taking a more holistic view of the workplace.
Employees are examining every aspect of company culture: professional development, mobility to work in global offices, flexible hours and telecommuting, extracurricular activities like company athletic teams, and casual dress days.
Across the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, 15 million young people are entering the workforce in the next 10 years, according to a recent report.
As these millennials enter the workforce, HR teams need to manage the expectations of the cross-generational workforce. Flexible and relevant reward schemes can cater to everyone, from 20-something recent graduates to working mothers.
Searching for and Retaining Top Talent
Searching for talent must be ongoing and proactive, and should not start in a panic mode when a position arises. Creating a talent pipeline is key, as companies need to know the available talent, and access those individuals quickly when the need arises.
Every employee, from a senior manager to a recent graduate, needs to articulate a clearly-defined employer value proposition. Discovering talent can be accomplished with effective graduate or internship programmes, or even through informal coffee meetings with prospective employees.
As we move away from the notion of a job for life to professionals switching companies every two-to-three years, companies are putting retaining talent at the top of their list.
Employee turnover is particularly acute in the GCC, due to a wide range of factors including a transient population, plentiful opportunities, long working hours, and a challenging work-life balance.
Companies’ having top talent poached by competitors is a major issue, especially as the cost of replacing an employee is 150 per cent of his or her annual salary.
There is no one-size-fits-all model to counter employee turnover and retain talent. Managers need to know each individual’s motivation, whether salary, global mobility, or professional development.
The current tech-savvy generation entering the workforce brings an infectious energy while seeking a holistic career. HR departments need to leverage those aspects to deliver benefits for all employees, while discovering and retaining top talent.